October Cooking Challenge: Week 1, Meal 2 – Tandoori Chicken with Spaghetti Squash and Green Beans

I am a little-of-this-little-of-that kind of cook. So far, the hardest thing about this challenge for me is that I have to restrain myself from reaching into my pantry cupboard. Sticking to the recipe takes discipline. Restraint and discipline are two qualities I severely lack when it comes to food.

This recipe requires a little more engagement than the calzones, which surprised me. But it combines some absolute winners: curry, coconut milk, fennel, and cilantro.


4 chicken thighs

1 spaghetti squash

1lb green beans

1 fennel bulb

1 can coconut milk

5 small or 3 large cloves of garlic

2 teaspoons of curry powder

1/2 bunch cilantro

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to season

Optional: 1/3 cup chopped tomatoes or pasta sauce (I added this in, because I found one of my kids hadn’t eaten theirs with the calzones the night before, so I covered it, put it in the fridge, and added it to the chicken. It is not essential to the recipe, but waste nothing, remember?

Step 1 – Prepare Vegetables (10 minutes)

img_3885Before you begin, preheat oven to 400 degrees

half spaghetti squash and remove seeds

top and tail the beans

chop the fennel

mince the garlic

chop the cilantro

open the can of milk

Tip: here’s a great instructional video for how to prepare fennel

Step 2 – Bake Squash (2 minutes)

img_3887In a baking sheet, add 2 cups of water

Lay the squash open sides down in the water

Pop into the pre-heated oven to cook (roughly 30 minutes)

Step 3 – Sauté (15 minutes)

img_3889Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat, you will need a pan with a lid, so I used a saucepan

Add garlic and fennel, and sauté for five minutes

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper

Add chicken thighs to the pan and brown on both sides

Step 4 – Chicken Curry (15 minutes)

img_3890Add the coconut milk, curry seasoning, and optional tomato/pasta sauce to the chicken

Cover and let simmer

Tip: read the ingredients on your curry powder when you buy it, a good curry powder will have just a few essential ingredients, like coriander, and turmeric. I prefer to get one without ground chili, because I can add that myself and control the heat depending on who I am cooking for.

Step 4 – Green Beans (10 minutes)

img_3891In a small pan, bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil over medium heat

Add a little salt

Add green beans

Cover and allow to simmer

Step 5 – Spaghetti Squash (5 minutes)

img_3892Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven

Carefully, using oven gloves, flip the squash over

Using a fork, pull the spaghetti strings away from the shell.

Step 6 – Plating The Food (2 minutes)

img_3894Remove chicken from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes

Remove the green beans from heat, drain, and set aside

Each plate gets a generous serving of spaghetti squash, a chicken thigh, and a quarter pound of green beans

Garnish generously with chopped cilantro

Quick Analysis

Assessment: This meal was so delicious and satisfying, we all cleaned our plates except for my daughter who wasn’t feeling well and went to bed early. I brought hers into work today for lunch and it was even better today than it was last night. Creamy without being too rich, and full of flavor.

Total time: 60 minutes

Mess factor: one large pan, a baking sheet, and a small pan for the beans (and again, lots of bowls if you are photographing the process. I have a collection of little pottery dipping bowls that are getting excellent mileage).

img_3895Waste: I saved the fennel fronds, garlic peels, spaghetti squash seeds and skins, cilantro stems, and bean tips for our veggie stock.

There was nothing to compost.

I put the tie from the cilantro in my kitchen drawer for reuse.

The plastic bag the beans came in (which could also have been wiped down and re-used – it’s bpa free,) was recycled. As was the cryovac chicken bag which I rinsed, along with the can.

What’s Left Over for the Week?

1 spaghetti squash

4 ears corn

1 bunch radishes

2lb sweet potatoes  1lb sweet potatoes

1 bunch brussel sprout leaves

1lb sweet peppers 2 sweet peppers

1lb green beans

1 fennel bulb

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes

1 green leaf lettuce 1/2 a green leaf lettuce

1 bunch swiss chard

1.2lb chicken thighs from Feather Brook Farm

8oz Atwells Gold cheese from Narragansett Creamery 4oz cheese

16oz pasta sauce from Poblano Farms

1 lemon 1/2 a lemon

8oz of garlic 6oz garlic

1 bunch of cilantro 1/2 bunch cilantro

1lb pizza dough

1 can organic garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

10oz GMO-free lo mein egg noodles

1 can organic coconut milk


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